To say that there is disappointment in Pakistan at losing the Karachi Test match and with it the series would be to convey the most polite of sentiments. Only the Pakistan cricket team has the genius to contrive a defeat from a seemingly impregnable position. They won the toss and made 405.
Thanks to some very indifferent bowling and even worse fielding, they allowed England to get within 17 runs of their first innings total. But they did get a lead. The batting collapsed in the second innings but England still needed to make 176 runs in 44 overs at an asking-rate of 4 per over and England got the runs.
From the start of the England innings, Pakistan went on the defensive and blocked the boundaries. Since the asking-rate was only 4 per over, England decided to get the runs in singles, thus exposing not only poor tactics but a poor knowledge of arithmetic on the part of Pakistan. It's mindboggling.
In the end Pakistan was counting on the light fading and did their share of time wasting, earning a warning from Steve Bucknor. Here too Pakistan did not realise that the light is offered to the batsmen and when it was offered, they decided, not surprisingly, to play on.
The sooner we forget this Test match and indeed the Test series, the better. Unless we choose to hear it as a wake-up call. Pakistan has lost four consecutive home Test series. Clearly home advantage does not suit us. One reason for this could well be that we are ourselves not familiar with home conditions. We set out to con the England team that they would be playing on spinning tracks.
In the process we conned ourselves as well. We prepared what we thought were spinning tracks, packed the team with spinners. We played with only two seamers and the wickets were so dead, no pace, no bounce, that we neutralised these two seamers but gave no advantage to our spinners. We also assumed that we had quality spinners and England did not have any.
Historically, it has been Pakistan's fast bowlers who have won Test matches for us, starting with Fazal Mahmood, Khan Mohammad, Mahmood Hussain, down to Imran Khan, Sarfaraz Nawaz and finally Wasim Akram and Waqar Younis.
Pakistan has had only one quality spinner in its cricket history. And that has been Abdul Qadir. It is true that Tauseef Ahmed and Iqbal Qasim won us the Bangalore Test match but that was on a mud track that had been fiendishly under-prepared and India fell in its own trap.
If England was vulnerable against spin, it was the spin of Shane Warne. As it transpired it was Ashley Giles who helped himself to some 16 wickets in the series and played a crucial role in England's win. Pakistani batsmen too seem vulnerable against spin!
Eleven individuals, no matter how brilliant, do not make a team. There has to be some element that binds them, be it national or professional pride. England got the better of the Test matches, apart, of course from winning the last, because they proved to be a better team though man for man we might have been better. They came to Pakistan as underdogs and were happy for it. It provided greater motivation, it kept the players together and as happens, they developed self-belief. Nor for a moment was there an indication that there may be problems in the team, any sort of friction between the players and management. Whatever differences they had, they left behind in their hotel rooms.
The next two series, against New Zealand in New Zealand and England in England will be very tough ones. Pakistan needs to do its homework. They will be playing on wickets where the ball will seam and swing in the air. It will be cold and wet. Even on the flat and docile wickets on which the series against England was played, only two batsmen performed consistently, Inzamam-ul-Haq and Yousuf Youhana. We saw a splendid century from Abdur Razzaq and Salim Elahi showed doggedness.
But, in totality, it looks like a brittle batting side and we saw that in Pakistan's second innings at Karachi. There was some atrocious shot selection. I think Pakistan's think-tank needs to put its thinking cap on. There should be a coldblooded review of England's tour of Pakistan and pin-point the mistakes that were made. It may be a cliche but it happens to be true that the road to the temple of wisdom is how we can only learn from our mistakes. I think too that we need a greater element of trust between the constituent parts that make up the team, The Management, the selectors, the players.
I get the impression that they are often at odds with each other and working at cross-purposes. As I said, it is only an impression but the cricket public too shares this impression, many have mentioned it to me. The lost series could be a blessing in disguise, if it helps to convert highly gifted individuals into a team.
I agree that winning and losing is part of the game but ask anyone, winning is better.